He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:16-18

Όνειδος (oneidos). It’s a Greek word that means shame, dishonor, disgrace, reproach, or opprobrium. It’s the feeling that is associated with the skeletons that lurk in closets; things we never speak of and never bring up, but secretly crush us on the inside.

I knew this feeling all too well. The shame was so acute and unbearable that I went to draw water from the well at the scorching noon hour. I preferred the sting of loneliness and isolation to the stares of derision I received from the other women; clean and chaste women with track records so much better than mine. After all, they were good and upstanding wives to one husband, but I had had five, and the man I was with now wasn’t even bound to me. The pain of my past was heavier than the stone jar of water I carried day in and day out, until one day everything changed!

A man, patient and probing, approached me—me, a shamed and discarded Samaritan woman, and asked me for water! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I felt like His eyes probed right to my soul, and I squirmed under His gaze. Then He spoke up, beginning to talk to me about some sort of Living Water. I inquired about it, wondering if it would slake the thirst in my soul as much as it would my lips. Then the subject abruptly changed to my relationship status. I could feel my heart in my throat, my palms getting sweaty, and the heat of the sun becoming oppressive. I stammered my response to this stranger’s questions, when wonder of wonders He revealed that He knew my past and current situation. But how could He? He didn’t even know me…yet, looking in His eyes, I saw something I had never seen before—a lack of condemnation. For the first time I understood what the ancients had written, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

My heart burst within me. This man truly was the Living Water, and for the first time ever, my shame had been lifted simply because one day I chose to “Come to the Well.

By Sheila Rennau

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